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The differential influence of HIV-1 subtype C,nucleoside analog resistance mutations: K65R, A62V, S68N and Y115F susceptibility to tenofovir.

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The use of Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumerate (TDF) for the treatment of HIV-1 infection has been recommended for the first-line as well as a second-line antiretroviral regimen in South Africa, due to its high antiretroviral activity and low toxicity level. However, the efficacy of the drug could be threatened by the emergence of drug resistance mutations. The development of TDF resistance poses a public health threat. TDF resistance can be acquired through a selection of the K65R mutation or the K70E mutation (though less frequently) under TDF selection pressure. Besides, K65R and K70E mutations, recent studies have identified other mutations associated with TDF resistance such as A62V, K65N, S68G/N/D, K70E/Q/T, L74I, V75L, and Y115F. These mutations were particularly observed to be in association with the K65R mutation and were reported to be more common in HIV-1 subtype C viruses. Also, these mutations could cause high-level resistance to TDF, especially when in combination with K65R. However, in-vitro studies are required to demonstrate their influence on viral fitness and TDF susceptibility. In this study, we investigated the impact of K65R, A62V, S68D, Y115F, and K65R+S68N on replication capacity and TDF susceptibility. The reverse transcriptase (RT) region was amplified from a drug-naive HIV-1 subtype C isolate obtained from a patient enrolled in the Tropism study (BREC: BF088/07) and cloned into a TOPO vector using a TOPO TA cloning kit. The HIV-1 RT mutations (K65R, A62V, S68D, Y115F, K65R+A62V, K65R+S68D, K65R+S68G, K65R+S68N, and K65R+Y115F) were introduced into the TOPO+RTsubC recombinant using the Quikchange lightning Multi site-directed mutagenesis kit. Next, recombinant viruses were created by co-transfection of the mutant RT amplicons and a pNL4-3-deleted-reverse transcriptase (RT) (pNL43ΔRT) backbone into GXR cells by electroporation. The replication capacity of the mutant viruses was assessed using a replication method that utilized a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter cell line and flow cytometry. We evaluated the replication capacity using the exponential growth curve function in Excel to determine the percentage GFP-expressing cells between days 2 and 6. The impact of the mutant viruses on susceptibility to TDF was performed in a luciferase-based assay. The 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) was calculated using Graph Pad Prism. Drug susceptibility was expressed as the fold change in IC50 of mutant virus compared with the wild type virus. Of the 5 TDF- selected mutants analysed: A62V, K65R, and Y115F mutants display a reduction in replicative fitness whereas, S68D and K65R+S68N showed high viral fitness. Interestingly, the TDF- selected resistance mutations we analysed, showed high susceptibility (A62V, S68D, and Y115F) and reduced susceptibility (K65R and K65R+S68N) to TDF. Our findings support the hypothesis that TDF- selected mutations only confer reduced susceptibility to TDF. Hence, further study is needed on various combinations of TDF-selected resistance mutations to further solidify this claim.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.